Informal workers and Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund: Identifying barriers to voluntary participation

Raphael Indimuli*, Nina Torm, Winnie Mitullah, Lone Riisgaard, Anne W. Kamau

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This article investigates the barriers to informal workers’ voluntary participation in Kenya’s national health insurance scheme – the National Hospital Insurance Fund.
Based on primary data from both qualitative and quantitative methods, we find that the key determinants of enrolment include social factors, such as marital status, which create demand for insurance, and the role of informal workers’
associations that promote the voluntary uptake of health insurance and prevent default through contribution support. Participation barriers and reasons for inactiveness stem from the nature of informal work characterized by irregular
earnings, which combine with apprehension about having to pay penalty charges for the late payment of premiums, inadequate levels of knowledge about health insurance schemes, institutional constraints such as complex registration
procedures, as well as premium costs and poor-quality services, all of which discourage enrolment or the reactivation of lapsed membership. There is thus a need for health insurance schemes, such as Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund, to educate informal workers on insurance services and protocols and to improve services to encourage uptake and reduce default behaviour.
TidsskriftInternational Social Security Review
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)79-107
Antal sider29
StatusUdgivet - 13 mar. 2023


  • health insurance
  • informal workers
  • gaps in coverage
  • social protection
  • voluntary insurance
  • income
  • Kenya

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